Despite serving as a Union Minister for more than 40 years, Ashwani Kumar left the Congress today citing his "dignity" as an important consideration. The Congress-led government of Manmohan Singh had Ashwani Kumar as Law Minister from 2009 to 2014.
Dr. Kumar wrote to Congress president Sonia Gandhi in his resignation letter, which was shared by news agencies: "Having given my thoughtful consideration to the matter, I have concluded that in the present circumstances and consistent with my dignity, I can best subserve larger national cause outside the party fold." He also said he "hoped to proactively pursue public causes inspired by the idea of transformative leadership, based on the dignitarian promise of a liberal democracy envisioned by our freedom fighters." Dr. Kumar told the Indian Express that "internal processes" of the Congress diminished individual leaders.
It is clear that the Congress party is out of touch with the way the nation thinks based on the continuing decline of its vote percentage and popularity ratings, he told the Express. In addition, he said that "as far as the future leadership of the Congress party is concerned, the national mood is not in favor of Rahul Gandhi."
A former Union Minister and a big leader in Uttar Pradesh, RPN Singh, also left the Congress last week. Earlier this month, RPN Singh, a close friend of the Gandhi family and a member of Rahul Gandhi's core team, left the Congress and joined the BJP. In 2014, Dr. Kumar became the first senior federal minister to leave the party since Congress lost power. As a prominent member of the Gandhi family, he was a veteran of the party.
A group of 23 members of the Congress - referred to as the G-23 - sent Sonia Gandhi a letter calling for major party reforms, including visible leadership and collective decision-making. While defending Gandhi at the time, Dr. Kumar had criticized the letter writers. Despite remaining members of Congress, many of the leaders of the group have openly critiqued the party. Gandhi’s family loyalists accused former Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad of leaning towards the BJP after he was offered a Padma award recently - one of the G-23 - for his contributions to the country.